top of page

The Ups and Downs of Riding

Riding and training a horse is a lot like life. There are ups and downs. Sometimes that’s just a metaphor, and sometimes that’s literal. It doesn’t always mean that you fell off, either. I was lunging my OTTB mare after a day off and wanted to see if my work in hand from our previous sessions had been retained. She was doing great! She was moving into the stretch and then working over the cavelletti so well that I was really proud of the way it was going.

She was actually enjoying the warm up and really relaxing into it. The sun glistened off her dark, shiny coat and I was thinking how nice her topline was coming along. She looked healthy and radiant. I was about to comment on how good she looked and how well this lunge session was going when my friend (and eyes on the ground) walked in the arena, and the mare looked up at her, lost her focus and footing, and fell. My heart seized in my chest.

She popped up almost like nothing happened and trotted off on the circle again. I worked her a few minutes both ways to see if she was lame, and everything appeared to be working. I breathed a prayer of thanks that she was OK and walked her over to the mounting block and took off the lunge line. As I was about to get on I noticed blood on my boots. I checked my nose since that’s the usual culprit—especially in spring—but it wasn’t me. It was her—my OTTB, Lady.

High up in her left armpit she had cut herself. Upon further inspection she had a little tissue on her right hoof. She had cut her left armpit with her right hoof. Oh dear. I called the vet and 12 stitches later she was on stall rest for 10 days. I was so sad for her. We had two weeks of really good progression in our training and this was a bummer of a setback.

Of course, it wasn’t the end of the world. It just meant she was going to be out of work for a while. So, I changed up my plans and did some stretches with her in her stall and sacked her out to the dressage whip again. After the wound had sealed, I did some short hand walking and just moved her off my hand and voice aids for halts and rein backs, turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.

She’s such a loving mare that if I don’t spend time with her she pouts. She also got some long grooming sessions. The good news is that that work helped when I got back into the saddle, even if I had to spend the first several days introducing her sensitive sides to the leg again. It’s hard to blame an OTTB for only interpreting leg of any kind as GO! GO! GO!

Either way, I made some lemonade out of lemons with my sweet OTTB mare, Lady. Riding is a mindset as much as it’s an activity you do with your best friend. It’s always good to have some back up plans when your horse plans go up or down when you least expect it.

Stay tuned for next week’s Two-minute Training Tip! If you need help building a training plan you can always email me questions at or check out for upcoming events. Like us on Facebook at!

36 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page